WHAT IS NEURODIVERSITY?
‘Neurodiversity’ refers to people characterized as ADHD, Aspergers, Dyslexic, Autistic, ADHD, and other neurological conditions. Sometimes referred to as “being on the Spectrum,” these individuals possess a wide range of cognitive traits, including some commonalities in how they learn and process information.
These naturally occurring variances in the human species are not necessarily “disabling;” in fact, they can be experienced as gifts — depending on what level of support and encouragement they receive.
The Neurodiversity paradigm has much in common with the Cognitive Liberty movement and the widespread Mental Health education campaigns (UK Royals, Lady Gaga/Born This Way Foundation), which strive to raise awareness of the legitimacy of different thinking and cognitive styles.
The Neurodiversity movement frames minority neurotypes such as autism as natural human variations—authentic forms of human diversity and self-expression, including forms of Giftedness — and not necessarily pathologies.
CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES
Neurodiversity represents a unique blend of "challenges" and opportunities for individuals and corporations.
One on hand is a significant population of highly qualified yet underemployed people who have proven capable of performing and innovating at high levels--with extraordinary levels of skill and insight.
However, many of these consituents present unique needs (e.g. work hours, social structure, communication techniques, work spaces). Companies following traditional playbooks may recognize the need for innovative talent, yet they are unsure how to create environments that support both neurodiverse and neurotypical team members.
"The case for neurodiverse hiring is especially compelling given the skills shortages that increasingly afflict technology and other industries. The biggest deficits are expected to be in strategically important and rapidly expanding areas such as data analytics and IT services implementation, whose tasks are a good match with the abilities of some neurodiverse people." Harvard Business Review
"Neurodiverse individuals are often technologically inclined and detail-oriented, with strong skills in analytics, mathematics, pattern recognition and information processing — among the very skills businesses most urgently need." EY
"What has kept so many companies from taking on people with the skills they badly need? It comes down to the way they find and recruit talent and decide whom to hire (and promote). Especially in large companies, HR processes are developed with an eye toward wide application across the organization. But there is a conflict between scalability and the goal of acquiring neurodiverse talent. “SAP focuses on having scalable HR processes; however, if we were to use the same processes for everyone, we would miss people with autism,” says Anka Wittenberg, the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer." Harvard Business Review
"After nine months, EY compared the work quality, efficiency and productivity generated by neurodiverse and neurotypical account support professionals. Quality, efficiency and productivity were comparable, but the neurodiverse employees excelled at innovation." In the first month, they identified process improvements that cut the time for technical training in half. They learned how to automate processes far faster than the neurotypical account professionals they trained with. They then used the resulting downtime to create training videos to help all professionals learn automation more quickly." - EY